Pianist Monty Alexander is set to release Love Notes this year, fulfilling a decades-long desire to record his first vocal album.
The iconic jazz musician has released 75 recordings as a bandleader over the course of his illustrious career spanning more than 60 years. Alexander’s recording career also includes work as a session musician with Ray Brown, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson and many more.
Now, he’s finally making his debut as a vocalist.
“My desire was emboldened ever since one of our great jazz vocalists, Carmen McRae, heard me sing a tune at the end of a concert and told me, ‘Don’t stop singing!,’ admonishing me like a loving aunt would,” Alexander recalls. “That was back in the 1970s, so it took me 50 years … but I am glad to finally introduce Monty the vocalist and this collection of love songs.”
The 11 tracks on Love Notes are new arrangements of some of Alexander’s favourite songs ever since he was a child in Jamaica; the exception is one original composition, These Love Notes, a previously instrumental fan favourite that’s been newly re-recorded here with lyrics by Brian Jobson. Among the album’s track listing are romantic standards famously recorded by the likes of Henry Mancini, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra and more.
“These songs harken back to innocent times, the 1950s, when I would hear calypsos and mentos in the streets,” Alexander says, “before I came to America, before the rise of Bob Marley, and certainly before I knew I would have this incredible career as a jazz pianist with over 75 albums recorded to date. Seventy-five albums as a pianist and one as a singer!”
Love Notes features an impressive cast of musicians that includes George Benson, Ramsey Lewis, Joe Sample, Courtney Panton, Karl Wright, Rubens de la Corte, Arturo Sandoval, Paul Berner, Steve Williams, Bobby Thomas Jr., Hassan Shakur and Quentin Baxter. The late Roy Hargrove also makes a posthumous appearance on two of the tracks.
The album’s release will be accompanied by tour dates worldwide.
There’s also a biographical documentary in the works called The Monty Alexander Movie. Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Arthur Gordon, the project is currently in production in Jamaica, the U.S. and Europe.